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People  •  Art + Design, Communication Studies  •  Assistant Professor

Eileen McGivney

Eileen conducts design-based research on how people learn with immersive technologies like virtual reality (VR). In her work, she draws on learning sciences, educational psychology, and media studies to investigate the affordances and limitations of VR to situate learning in environments that are difficult or impossible in traditional classrooms. In particular, she is interested in the process of learning with VR and how the design of virtual environments and activities affect how learners use and experience them, and ultimately how that helps or hinders their learning. In her current work she is studying such processes related to learners’ sense of agency, emotions, self-beliefs, and identities, and how they are affected by design features like varied types of interactivity. Eileen conducts her research in authentic education environments, partnering with practitioners to help design effective implementations of VR for diverse populations. Recent projects have included working with high school STEM classes in a low-income area and job interview training for formerly incarcerated individuals. She also takes an integrated approach to her teaching and research, experimenting with VR technologies in her own teaching and conducting research with her students. Eileen completed her Ph.D. in Education at Harvard University where she also served as an instructor and a researcher in Project Zero’s Next Level Lab and the NSF-funded EcoLearn projects. Prior to Harvard, Eileen researched technology and innovation in education systems around the globe at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. and the Education Reform Initiative in Istanbul, Turkey. She holds an MA in Public Policy Analysis from Sabanci University and a BS in Media Studies from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.


Art + Design, Communication Studies


  • Ph.D., Education, Harvard University
  • M.A., Public Policy Analysis, Sabanci University
  • B.S., Media Studies, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Courses Taught

  • XR History, Theory, and Impact
  • Communication and XR
  • Mixed Research Methods for Games